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In 2018 the cannabis industry was perhaps a bit too young to really take advantage of the holiday spirit, but the 2019 season is already kicking off in a big way. Cannabis retailers, like all retailers in Canada, can expect a significant uptick in revenues this time of year – if they plan accordingly.

Without a holiday strategy, you can expect a few sales to trickle in leading up to Christmas. But what would happen with a little planning? How can you get your customers to stock up on all-things-green this December?

Carefully Crafted Holiday Messaging

What is your holiday messaging this year? It’s wise to consider your target audience. For example, using Santa and other children’s characters to market cannabis is not only illegal, but it’s tasteless. An in-store advertisement with Rudoph might only serve to turn your customers off, instead of convincing them to make a purchase.

Choose a holiday message which is consistent with your target customer profile. For example, if your ideal customer is a 35-year-old, professional female who typically prefers premium brands and products, market accordingly. If it’s a 25-year-old male, working in construction and who purchases based on budget, then the holiday marketing strategy will look much different.

Whatever message you choose, build the entire sales strategy around it. Build gift packages, sales days, and promo offers specifically tailored to your customer’s needs during the holidays.

The message also needs to consider whether you want to encourage customers to purchase cannabis as gifts for others (think a bottle of wine for a colleague), or whether they are buying for personal use to celebrate.

Finally, where do edibles fit into this picture? Edibles are the hot new item in Canada, and consumers are curious. Take advantage of their curiosity and build edibles into the holiday messaging.

Taking a Page from Holiday Spirit Marketing

Beer, wine, and spirit makers have long taken advantage of the holidays for increased sales. Canadian sales statistics tell us these companies must be doing something right because their sales typically peak between December 6th and January 2nd every year (at least according to numbers released by the LCBO). What sales tactics do they use to pull in customers?

Alcohol producers typically market their wares as a celebratory product. Hosts provide refreshments, and guests bring thank you bottles of wine. It seems very plausible for cannabis to play a similar role, so long as the marketing stays within the legal parameters.

Why can people bring a thank you edible along to a party? Or have a selection of THC-rich products available for their adult-guests?

Another trend in holiday alcohol advertising campaigns is the focus on premium products. Nobody is gifting bottom of the barrel wine and beer options. You may have noticed liquor stores always build extravagant displays at the front of the store, showcasing high-end, premium products. Are their ways to replicate this in cannabis?

Have you also noticed the number of small items that appear at checkout at liquor stores over the holidays? These last-minute gift ideas are strategically placed and priced as an impulse buy. Usually priced between five to ten dollars, consumers pick them up as they wait in line. A small item which increases the average sales per customer and also the average items sold per customer.

The holiday focused impulse buy is an excellent idea for the cannabis retailer. Think about all the possibilities, from infused treats to cannabis accessories, to pre-rolled joints. When your customer is waiting in line, you want them to start thinking about stocking stuffers.

Inspiration for Holiday Cannabis Sales

While this might only be the second year cannabis is celebrating the holidays, other retailers have been working the holiday season for decades. Perhaps not all sales ideas transfer to the cannabis industry, but there are many that do.

Here are a few of our favorite sales strategies, which transfer remarkably well from other industries into recreational cannabis:

1. 12 Days of Christmas

A popular sales tactic around the holidays is to launch a “12 Days of Christmas” sale. Officially, the 12 days of Christmas start on Christmas Day, but retailers of all stripes usually begin in the weeks leading up to the big day.
Whenever you choose to launch the sale, start with small offers, and lead up to the larger promotions. It’s about building anticipation among your customer base. However, you typically communicate sales with your clientele, be sure to market each day’s promotion in a timely manner. Build excitement about the next day’s release and get people coming through your doors to check it out.

2. Gift Sets

Take a page from the cosmetic counter and create custom gift sets with several related products rolled into one. The sky’s the limit when it comes to inspiration for these packages. Think about who customers typically buy gifts for (mothers, fathers, siblings, partners, thank you gifts, etc.) and roll with it.

Combine cannabis accessories with cannabis flowers, concentrates, or edibles for the perfect grab-and-go gift option.

The TechPOS platform makes combo’s easy in this regard. From the dashboard, the TechPOS Combo Feature makes it simple to combine multiple products into preset packages with a set price.

3. BOGO Sales

Another trend around the holidays is the BOGO sale. Buy-one-get-one sales are an excellent method to move product that has been lingering in your inventory too long and increase items-per purchase. Create a sale that works for your bottom line and inventories you have on hand. For example, why not start with BOGO 25 percent off, and increase over the course of the month?

4. Focus on Edibles!

It’s mid-December, and edibles are here. While the flower sales may have leveled out, the edibles market is an entirely new frontier. Some market assessments expect edibles, topicals, and concentrates will reach $2.7 billion in annual sales. In part, this is because edibles open up cannabis to an entirely new demographic of customers. Many Canadians are curious about them.

Whatever your holiday sales strategy, do not forget to focus on edibles. Work it into gift sets and BOGO offers, and be sure to include edible promotions in the 12 Days Christmas schedule. Edibles make great gifts, party favors, and stocking stuffers, make sure your customers know this.

5. Gift Wrapping Services

Encourage your customers to purchase cannabis as gifts by offering gift-wrapping services. While it’s likely not a good idea to charge for this service (customers might presume you are a bit of a Scrooge if you do), why not include it as part of a promotion? For example, offer gift wrapping on orders over a specific amount or on particular items. Better yet, ask customers to donate to charity for complimentary gift wrapping.

Gift paper and ribbon cost little upfront costs, but it’s a value-added service for your customers come Christmas time. It’s a simple way to get them in the holiday spirit and consider the products on your shelves as gift ideas, instead of simply for personal use.

A Quick Note on In-Store Decoration

Nothing is worse than half-hearted holiday decorations. Bad holiday decorations are a surefire way to lower the customer’s perception of your brand.

If a customer walks into your location to see cheap decorations thrown around, it may have a big impact on their purchasing decision. Garish Christmas lights and cheap tinsel has never convinced anyone about quality.
Demonstrate value through a focus on in-store aesthetics. Consider decorating according to your specific branding and target audience. Remember, when it comes to keeping holiday decor classy, less often says more.

Take Advantage of the Holidays to Boost Sales

Did you know that during the holiday season, approximately 30 percent of all retail sales are focused on gifts? Furthermore, the average household spends roughly $1,400 on holiday gifts each year. How can you capture some of this spending at your location?

As we near Christmas, bring out the decorations (tastefully, please), and launch a series of holiday-inspired sales. Create a specific message to speak with your target audience and encourage customers to consider cannabis as a gift option. In the past, cannabis wasn’t necessarily associated with Christmas time, but this is 2019 – things have changed.

Kathy Kashef

Author Kathy Kashef

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